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Girls volleyball Coach of the Year: Lake Central’s Tina Tinberg

Lake Central Coach TinTinberg celebrates with her players after defeating Valparaiso 3-0 set sweep Valparaiso High School Tuesday October 23

Lake Central Coach Tina Tinberg celebrates with her players after defeating Valparaiso in a 3-0 set sweep at Valparaiso High School on Tuesday October 23, 2012. | Jim Karczewski~for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 2, 2013 6:09AM



Lake Central coach Tina Tinberg has a thing for making history.

She did it when she was a two-time all-state volleyball player at Thornwood (Ill.) in the 1980s.

And she did it when she led the University of Colorado to its highest national ranking in school history when the Buffaloes were ranked 18th her junior season.

She was even invited to the Olympic Training Center after her senior year to try out with the Olympic “B” Team.

But her most important feats may have come this year as coach of Lake Central.

The fourth-year coach helped end a five-year sectional-title drought by upending Munster in a classic five-game match. But it was the team’s three-game sweep over Valparaiso in the regional championship that gave the school its first regional title in 18 years, which meant even more to Tinberg.

For her accomplishments this season, Tinberg has been named the Post-Tribune Coach of the Year.

Tinberg began coaching six years ago and had no intention at the time of coaching high school volleyball. She got into it more because her daughters Dani and Taylor Ellis were in junior high and looking to raise their level of play.

But her passion for coaching grew and an opening at Lake Central opened the door to the next level.

“I heard (former coach) Amber (Alm) was leaving and I thought maybe I should apply for it,” Tinberg said. “(Former athletic director) Mark Peterson really liked my resume and hired me. I’m not sure what impressed him because a lot of my resume was player history. I had only one or two years under my belt at the time.”

Peterson’s hire proved to be favorable for LC even though it didn’t result in sectional championships right away.

Not only did the Indians win a regional championship this season, but LC is considered an early favorite to win the DAC next year and defend its sectional and regional crowns with young stars like Lauren DiNino, Brooke Renner and Tori Gardenhire returning next season.

“We peaked at the right time and, coming into sectionals, I figured it would be us and Munster in the final,” Tinberg said. “Before the (Munster) match, I basically told them to believe in themselves and their goals and if you truly want to accomplish something you can do it. Working on the mental attitude was big. I was seeing this relentless play out of them so it was a matter of building up that positive mindset.

“Beating Munster was the highlight of the season. That was an epic battle. That was obviously hard-fought and it was relentless on both sides.”

The cherry on top was defeating Valparaiso on its home court for the regional crown.

“We took care of business the night we played Valpo in the regionals,” Tinberg said. “I do quite a few motivational speeches so for this I popped in the last 10 points of the Munster match and told them what an opportunity was in their hands.

“I said: ‘You can’t be afraid to lose.’ That win was so meaningful because it hadn’t been done in 18 years. There was only one regional title in LC volleyball history so it was extra special and the fact the seniors contributed meant so much more because this was the class Coach (Bill) Gray came in with.”

The Indians finished 28-10 overall and 9-5 in the DAC.

Thirty wins is possible next season.

“Everything that I had as a kid was because I was blessed with unbelievable coach in my career that helped me attain my goals,” Tinberg said. “That’s what I want to be to the players that play for me. I want to give my gift back.”



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